More children ready for school. More students healthy. More high school graduates ready for postsecondary and life success. New models of whole child education. A new vision of how a Research 1 university can spur innovations and create a more coherent system of teaching, learning and caring.
ALL4SC (or Accelerating Learning & Leadership for South Carolina) launched in late fall 2019 in partnership with the Fairfield County School District. Since then, the global pandemic, along with deepened economic distress and elevated systemic racism, have made our work — and education transformation — even more critical for South Carolina and our nation.
Vision for Transformation
Transformation is the essential word here. ALL4SC is one of the University of South Carolina’s Excellence Initiatives and is about transforming how South Carolina children learn. We marshal resources across the entire university and beyond to reimagine education — from Zero-to-Workforce — in our state.
Our vision for transforming education in South Carolina is far different from the top-down reform efforts of the past. ALL4SC is not about tinkering around the edges of school improvement. It is about reimagining cross- sector collaboration and forging public-private partnerships in both PreK-12 and postsecondary education to spur economic mobility for every South Carolinian.
The big difference in this transformation strategy is change must be deeply grounded in the community and must be driven by educators, parents, and students, along with policy makers and business leaders.
Fairfield County School District Partnership
The Fairfield County School District signed on early to be a pilot site for ALL4SC’s work. The ALL4SC team spent our first several months listening to and learning from teachers and administrators in all nine district schools.
The team also began working with a county-wide coalition, Fairfield Forward, to build a shared vision and infrastructure for a children’s cabinet for the community. Nationwide, children’s cabinets are a proven strategy for systemically changing the fragmented ways that state and local governments do business for children and youth.
As the pandemic turned everyone’s professional and personal lives upside down, ALL4SC launched a number of initiatives to serve children and youth to accelerate a whole child approach to education.
- Worked with College of Education faculty to develop (and fund with legislative support) the Carolina Collaborative for Alternative Preparation— an innovative high-quality, competency- based approach to teaching that marries the expertise of local teachers, schools, and districts with non-profits, educational technology companies, and institutions of higher education.
- Developed a partnership with Harmony and Inspire of National University with our local United Way of the This partnership supports Fairfield County educators as they meet the social-emotional learning needs of students and gives educators innovative tools to measure the behavioral health of the district’s elementary school students.
- Supported the launch of President Caslen’s Mentoring Initiative. Drawing on the YESS Lab (USC’s psychology program), we began piloting the MentorHub app with Fairfield and Marlboro County students as part of a scale-up strategy for community schooling.
- Joined with the SC Education Association, the Palmetto State Teachers Association, and the SC Department of Education to conduct a study of the lived experiences of our state’s public school teachers teaching in the midst of the pandemic to immediately inform key decision makers and identify innovations needed going forward.
- Partnered with the Fairfield County School District, Head Start, First Steps, Midlands Technical College, and the SC Program for Infant/Toddler Care to develop a 0-5 strategy for the community (to launch in Fall 2021) that will include immediate care for infants and toddlers as well as career pathways for early childhood educators in the community.
- Crafted an interdisciplinary research project to design and test an integrated student support data system drawing on education and health This research team includes faculty from the colleges of education and medicine plus the SC Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office (pending funding from Robert Woods Johnson Foundation).
- Collaborated with engineering faculty in designing innovations in STEM education to prepare young people for the Future of Work as the intelligent machines become a fixture in the global economy.
- Developed an initiative, in partnership with Student Voice and Fairfield Forward, where high school students lead an asset mapping process to identify the community’s strengths and challenges, evaluate its capacity, and create evidence-based solutions, which they will present to local leaders.
- Launched a collaboration with the Learning Policy Institute to develop a whole child state education policy analysis for South Carolina (prototyping a model for the nation). By working closely with the SC Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children, we will develop a roadmap for developing more coherent, whole child, cross-sector policy reforms (to be published in June 2021).
- Created a practitioner network for prototyping a whole child/whole community model
of schooling with five schools from Fairfield, Marlboro and Berkeley Counties (including
a focus on 0-5, evidence-based mentoring, integrated student support data and other
Over the last several months, we have developed collaborative efforts with KnowledgeWorks, StudentVoice, Tri-County Cradle to Career, TransformSC, SC Coalition for Math and Science, and First Steps (with others under development). More than 70 USC faculty have expressed interest in working with ALL4SC. Well over a dozen USC faculty have already been deeply involved from education, journalism, engineering, public health, social work, psychology, music and medicine. Conversations are underway with other academic and professional units (e.g., nursing, public health) as their time and talent will be needed as our work evolves.
Over the next several months, we will deepen the focus on our whole child/whole community partnerships across South Carolina, including KnowledgeWorks, as well as the Tri-County Cradle to Career Collaborative to advance innovations in policy and practice. In March, we will launch our community school network of practice with our school-community-university partners and will establish metrics for continuous improvement and a system of shared accountability. Lexington 1 has asked ALL4SC to develop a youth development strategy for the district to align mentoring and career pathways for high need students.
The USC Excellence Initiative provides core funding for ALL4SC. Over the last 18 months, ALL4SC has secured more than $1 million in external funding (innovations in teacher training, documenting the impact of the pandemic on teaching, whole child policy analysis and social-emotional learning supports). Several grant proposals related to whole child/whole community education are under development, and we are establishing philanthropic relationships with a range of national, state, and local funders and investors.
For additional information, contact Barnett Berry, ALL4SC founding director